Equipped for Recovery-News/Updates

The workshop is less than a month away and we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure your experience is amazing and life-changing. Wondering what to expect at the workshop?

Less than a Month Away

The workshop is less than a month away and we are working hard behind the scenes to ensure your experience is amazing and life-changing. Wondering what to expect at the workshop?

Join us on September 10, 2022, for an afternoon of discovery, and interactive learning as we delve into your recovery toolbox to equip you for recovery!

What is Recovery?

“Recovery is commonly defined as the process of getting better from an illness or otherwise returning to a state of physical and mental health.” –Lives of Substance

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ centered 12-Step program, uses the phrase, “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” to describe the program’s focus. Everyone experiences one or more of these over the course of their life, making recovery an essential part of our lives. Overcoming the inclination to use unhealthy and destructive ways of coping with life stressors, hurts, traumaor anything that disrupts our well-being is a lifelong process. Building and maintaining a Recovery Toolbox of healthy coping tools, knowing how to use them, and using them regularly greatly improves our chances of success. The “Equipped for Recovery Workshop ” offers the opportunity to explore your toolbox, add new tools, revitalize existing tools, and practice what you learn.

Click Links below to find out:

Who Should Attend?

What to Expect (Sneak Peek)

What is Interactive Learning?

Live Experience and Livestream Experience

  1. Jillian Roberts-Live experience Host
  2. Carla Alvarez– Livestream Experience Host

Four Interactive Sessions

  1. Boundaries
  2. Journaling
  3. Self-Care
  4. Accountability

Guest Speakers

  1. Kelly Mata
  2. Charlotte Thomason
  3. Krystl Michalek
  4. Mike and Jennifer Orenstein
  5. Korine Martinez and Angellee Jones

Giveaways

  1. Drawings at the end of each session
  2. Participation prizes during each session

Buy your ticket today!

Register Early- Limited Seating Available for Live Experience

Shout Out to Our Sponsors

We are so grateful to our sponsors. Check out the video for more about our first Builder Level Sponsor, Michalek Plumbing, and see the list of Suppliers who provided gifts, resources, and snack items for the Equipped for Recovery Workshop.

Opportunities Still Available

For Major Sponsorships Click Here

Want to customize your sponsorship package? Click Here

I’m Not One of “Those People”?

Sometimes I still struggle with asking for help because I don’t want to be a burden or I think my needs aren’t important, but I also struggle with self-reliance. Because I grew up in an abusive home, I learned early that I couldn’t rely on anyone for help.

We all struggle with something, but admitting we need help is often difficult.

Over the past few weeks I’ve recalled just how scary it was for me to admit I needed help when my life was falling apart around me. I was, after all, trained to help others. Surely, I didn’t need to seek help for the anxiety, depression, and destructive behaviors that disrupted my life. I thought, “Something must be wrong with me. I should be able to handle this on my own.” Pride overtook reason and I rationalized, “I’m not like those people,” but, in reality, I was no different than the individuals I worked with daily in my job as a social worker. I realized everyone struggles with something and there was no shame in admitting I couldn’t manage my struggles without help. I was, and continue to be, one of “those people,” because “those people” are every human on the planet.

Seeking Help is Not a Weakness

Sometimes I still struggle with asking for help because I don’t want to be a burden or I think my needs aren’t important, but I also struggle with self-reliance. Because I grew up in an abusive home, I learned early that I couldn’t rely on anyone for help. My sense of self was grounded in the belief that seeking help meant I was weak and that was terrifying. My survival depended on withstanding the onslaught of evil that surrounded me. Yet, I also discovered an ally in Jesus, who bolstered me up during moments of darkness. While He didn’t rescue me from abuse, He did protect my soul. My faith gave me hope that there was a possibility of something better.

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:31

Do You Love Me?

Many individuals read this passage as simple guidance for interacting with others, but in actuality, the words also refer to how we feel about ourselves. For years, I couldn’t give or receive love because I hated myself. Plus, I felt unworthy of His love because my behavior was far from what I believed He would accept.

Separating my behavior from my identity was agonizing. Everything I did was powered by the belief that I was nothing, a product of evil, a worthless piece of garbage, and completely unlovable. In my hopelessness, I contemplated suicide several times. I saw no way out of my situation and believed God had given up on me, but each time I wanted to take my life, God showed up in rather dramatic ways to stop me. He never forced me to choose life, but sent someone to encourage me. I was not alone and, for a brief moment, I believed I was loved.

Asking for help, seeking out friends and family in times of stress keeps me grounded and prevents relapse when triggers or temptation occur. Everyone needs help if for no other reason than reminders that who we are is not defined by what happens to us or by our struggles. Our identity is in Christ and that never changes.

Equipped for Recovery Workshop-September 10, 2022-Hutto,TX Livestream also available!

Hear more of my story, learn and practice new tools to equip you for recovery from trauma, addictions, or simply navigating life stressors.
Get Tickets Here

Learning Brain vs Survival Brain

In the video, Dr. Ham excellently explains the impact of trauma on learning. While his intended audience is teachers, the points apply to survivors of childhood trauma.

Thoughts on Video by Dr. Jacob Ham

Learning vs Survival

In the video, Dr. Ham excellently explains the impact of trauma on learning. While his intended audience is teachers, the points apply to survivors of childhood trauma. The rock illustration provides a clear image of the effort involved to access the learning brain when the survival brain dominates a person’s actions and reactions.

Dr. Ham also stresses that a strong support system is vital to the child’s ability to relax, have fun and learn. Without such a system, a child becomes overwhelmed by the circumstances and cannot see beyond their immediate surroundings. Instead of enjoying life and learning, the traumatized child worries about the next episode of trauma.

As I look back on my childhood, I wonder how I did well in school given the abuse I endured. Where did I get enough emotional support to counter the dominant survival brain? I recall times when I struggled with learning and those were the times when the abuse was the most severe.

During most of my childhood, I loved school. School provided an escape from the trauma. From the first day of kindergarten through most of the third grade, my teachers created the environment that Dr. Ham describes in the video. At the end of third grade, I lost my teacher’s respect when the teacher caught me cheating. (which I did to avoid losing a friend.) I also lost the friend. My support group vanished as did my ability to control my survival brain. I did not regain my love of school until Junior High when I formed friendships and the severity of the abuse decreased.

However, there is an aspect of the battle that Dr. Ham doesn’t address—The role of faith as a support system. I knew Jesus from a very young age, but I did not fully understand God’s unconditional love. I did not understand the idea that Jesus was in my heart, so I sought Him in the external world. When I could not connect with God, my survival brain took over and my performance in school declined. When I connected to God (Jesus) my learning brain seemed stronger and I performed well in school.

As an adult, understanding how the brain functions helps me cope with my emotional response to triggers. I know when brain fog settles in, it’s time to engage in self-care, rather than beat myself up for not being able to think.  Dr. Ham states that “survival brain trumps learning brain every time,” but there is a way to alter the automatic response. When my survival brain kicks in, I’ve learned to pause, focus on who I am, rather than what survival brain tells me. God determines who I am, not the world. I also have a support group that prays for me. I realize I don’t have to fight my battle alone, but I have to ask for help.  Now, admittedly, in times of intense stress, I do not always remember to use these tools, but when I succeed, learning brain trumps survival brain. The rock (from Dr. Ham’s video) gets pushed to the top of the hill and stays there.

Community, support, faith and accepting that I need help are key components to short circuiting the survival brain response. Science explains how my mind reacts to trauma and triggers. God provides tools to level the playing field. Both are essential to healing from childhood trauma.

Equipped for Recovery Workshop-Interactive recovery workshop
9/10/2022 In-person and virtual!

Learn more about self-care, support systems, boundaries, and taking thoughts captive!
Tickets available now! Click Here to register

One Year Later-A Note to My Younger Self

Today, on the release anniversary, I wrote the sonnet included in this post to continue the conversation. The sonnet has the same form as the four sonnets included in the narrative and honors the child whose courage and faith allowed me to tell my story of sorrow, hope, and redemption.

I can’t believe it’s been a year.

Today is the one year anniversary of the release of What Kind of Love is This? Finding God in the Darkness, the memoir that recounts my journey to understand love and accept God’s unconditional love. Throughout the narrative I include conversational sonnets to give the reader a reprieve from the horrific events of my childhood. However, the sonnets serve another purpose. I wrote them to my younger self to encourage her to tell her story. So, today, on the release anniversary, I wrote the sonnet included in this post to continue the conversation. The sonnet has the same form as the four sonnets included in the narrative and honors the child whose courage and faith allowed me to tell my story of sorrow, hope, and redemption.

One Year Later-A Celebration

Oh, child so fair, what do you need today?

A year is gone and here we are again.

Oh, child so fair, I don’t know what to say.

Oh, Little one, are you free from your pain?

Oh, child so fair, you are so brave and strong.

You told the tale, defeated fear and doubt.

Oh, child so fair, do you know you belong?

There is no need to hide or sneak about.

Oh, child so fair, the journey must go on.

Oh, little one, walk with me as we share

The hope we found in the eyes of the Son.

And now you know Jesus was always there.

They know your story and they have not fled.

You can stand tall; you have nothing to dread.

More Sonnets, Letters to my younger self and the full story of sorrow, hope, and redemption!

What Kind of Love is This?
Audible version available for free with membership Click Here
Paperback version on sale for 75% off Click Here

Past Events

The pandemic opened up new platforms for me and others and virtual events became more acceptable to media and the public. Since the release of my memoir, What Kind of Love is This? Finding God in the Darkness, I’ve participated in multiple interviews, podcasts, and events on a variety of topics.

Here is a sampling of recent events

Hope Today-Healing from Child Sexual Abuse Trauma

Today I had the privilege of being the guest on Cornerstone Television Network’s program, Hope Today. I must admit I was more nervous about the interview than normal because it was a live broadcast. However, the hosts immediately put me at ease. Their approach to the interview allowed me to share aspects of my journey that I’ve not shared on previous programs.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share moments when God showed up to give me hope in the darkest moments of my childhood as well as the importance of both counseling and faith in my healing process.

The Everyday Royalty Podcast with Keri Kitchen

Talking to Keri Kitchen was like talking to a friend over coffee as we discussed my journey to find God in the darkness and move from victim mentality to realizing I am not defined by the trauma I experienced as a child.

Good Morning Ozarks

Interview with Annie Broughton on Niteline.

She asked some tough questions, but we had a great conversation. Click here to watch

August 7, 2021-Virtual Book Launch

July 10, 2021 Santa Fe, TX Book Launch Party

Celebrate Recovery Austin, TX June 10, 2021

You are Not Alone Tonight

With a sigh of relief, I whispered, “Thank you, for choosing to live.” I looked at the word document on my computer screen and felt a renewed sense of God’s presence. I sat in awe of God’s unconditional love for me.

Repost: I posted this blog nearly 3 years ago, but the last few weeks reminded me of the significance of the decision I made to live 46 years ago. Suicide is epidemic across the globe and reflects the hopelessness felt by so many. I wanted to share this part of my journey again today with the hope that it will help someone choose to live.

With a sigh of relief, I whispered, “Thank you, for choosing to live.” I looked at the word document on my computer screen and felt a renewed sense of God’s presence. I sat in awe of God’s unconditional love for me. I had forgotten the significance of divine intervention in my life. I realized that after years of healing, studying and recounting the details of my journey, I was spiritually complacent. The complacency crept in while I moved on with my life.  I spent years sorting through memories and putting together the enormous puzzle of my life. I created a program that blended faith and reason to navigate the psychological and spiritual aspects of healing, but tonight I rediscovered God’s touch.

I felt the power of His presence in my life that I have not experienced in a long time.

Tonight, as I completed the chapter in my memoir about one of the darkest, yet most significant moments in my adult life, I decided to write a letter to the young woman who decided to live. At age 22, I believed that God hated me because I couldn’t stop acting out sexually. The chapter details the events of that night, but my experience after recounting them is the subject of this post. I think I finally understand my 22-year-old self and the significance of God’s intervention. I wanted to thank my younger self for the choice she made after God stepped in.

I still had a choice even after my pastor prayed over me.

Perhaps, you have faced despair and considered taking your life or you know someone who faces that choice. I share the letter I wrote to my younger self in this post to share the new insight I gained from traveling back to the night I chose life. God did not beat me over the head with a burning bush experience, instead, he sent a messenger in the form of my pastor. My pastor did not know I was on the verge of suicide and I never told him. His purpose that night was to give me hope. I think sometimes a simple message of “I am here. You are not alone, tonight,” might be the key to saving a life.

I am thankful that my pastor listened to the prompting to call me that night.

The letter below reflects what I want to tell my 22-year-old self as I close another painful chapter in my life with renewed hope and faith in the power of divine intervention.

You are Not Alone Tonight, Charlie

Hello Beautiful,

You are beautiful, Charlie. You are more beautiful than you realize. Tonight, I agonized with you and felt the despair and hopelessness of a young woman who desperately searched for love. I cried with you as you pleaded with God to set you free. My heart broke tonight when you lost all hope and wanted to end your life. You don’t understand yet why God intervened tonight, but you will. You don’t know for sure that the love you feel from God right now will last, but you will. You wonder if you will ever be free from the torment of the emptiness in your soul, but you will.

You felt beautiful tonight for the first time in a long time. You felt God’s touch, and you remembered it from when you were a little girl. Although you don’t remember the details of the times Jesus held you in His arms, tonight you remembered how safe you felt. Those feelings are real memories. One day you will know all the times Jesus kept you from losing your soul. You are not evil. You are beautiful.

Tonight, I want you to rest and know that all is not lost. Tomorrow is a new day, Charlie. Sleep well and know that you are not alone tonight.

Love,

The Charlotte that you will become because you chose to live tonight.

Not a God of Immediate Gratification

David’s words are a great reminder to us that God is not a God of immediate gratification. The Lord expects us to wait on His timing. He expects us to trust Him and “wait all the day long” for His guidance while trusting Him to meet us at our point of need. We cannot rush God, but we can rush ahead of Him. When we do, the result is often disastrous.

Lead me in your truth

and teach me, for you are

the God of my salvation;

for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:5

Surrender and Devotion

Note: In the 7 months since I posted this blog, I’ve experienced many victories, had expectations shattered, dreams fulfilled, and attempted things I never dreamed I could do. Sometimes I grew impatient because God was not acting “fast enough” for my liking. Yet, He always made a way for His plan to come to fruition.

Now, I find myself at another crossroads as I contemplate the path forward. As I considered what to share this week, this blog brought me comfort and reminded me to be patient, wait for the Lord to move, and to be still and listen for His whisper.

Surrender and devotion dominate David’s writing. Throughout the Psalms, he lays his life before the Lord and says, “teach me.” He knows his limits and desires to learn from the Lord. He basically says, “Lord, I can’t do this without you. I need you to guide me and help me know the truth.” However, he does not demand an immediate response from God. Instead, he says, “I’ll wait for you all day.” He makes his plea, then waits.

David’s words are a great reminder to us that God is not a God of immediate gratification. The Lord expects us to wait on His timing. He expects us to trust Him and “wait all the day long” for His guidance while trusting Him to meet us at our point of need. We cannot rush God, but we can rush ahead of Him. When we do, the result is often disastrous.

Moving too Fast

During the early years of healing from childhood trauma, I didn’t wait on God to teach me or lead me, and it almost destroyed me. I rushed to remember everything as quickly as I could and I set unrealistic goals for completing the healing process. The result- a year in a psychiatric day program. I could not work, nor was I emotionally available for my daughter. I pushed my mind beyond the brink and feared I would never return to normal life. Still, God did not abandon me. He waited for me, guided me and helped me recover my sanity.

Listen, Rest, and Learn

As you or a loved one progresses on their healing journey, remember to pace yourself. Listen to God’s whisper, listen to those that care for you, breathe, rest, and wait. Healing is a journey, not a destination.

Spring is Coming!

When I am in the midst of a difficult season in my life, I sometimes forget that spring is coming.  I can’t see any further than my circumstance.  Fortunately, God knows SPRING IS COMING!  I ask myself, why should I worry.

Note: I think this blog may become an annual post. Each spring I think about the joy John found in our yearly jaunts into the Texas Hill Country in search of Bluebonnets. Other than watching sports, our annual trek was his favorite activity. As our birthdays draw near, the lessons I learned from this post return to my thoughts. Spring is coming! No matter how difficult the winter, spring is coming!

“Did you get it?”,  John asked with eager anticipation in his voice. “Yes, here it is,” I replied, “Looks really good this year.”   “Should be, after the rain we had in January, he commented.

As he opened the pages of the magazine, he reminded me of a child who just opened the best Christmas present ever!  For the next several hours, John poured over page after page of pictures of wildflowers.  Nothing else mattered at that moment.  I sat on the couch smiling each time he made an excited, “Wow! We need to go here this year!”  Or “I know exactly where that is! I have a picture just like this one.”  By the end of the day, John had our route for our annual sojourn through the Texas Hill Country mapped out.

Every year we made the trip.  It did not matter to John if we saw one bluebonnet or thousands.  What mattered was the journey and ultimately seeing the result of God’s workmanship throughout the winter.  The bluebonnets peeked out from the grassy field’s along the Texas highways like tiny beacons of light that illuminated the drab, colorless landscape of winter.  Each blossom represented victory over the harshness of winter.  Each blossom represented a new life and a new beginning.

Before each flower pushes through the earth to show off its beauty, it must endure the winter.

I often wondered how these seemingly fragile plants bloom year after year.  What miraculous events occur that result in such beauty?   So, like any good 21st-century researcher, I Googled, “How to plant bluebonnets in Texas.”

From this search I learned:

  1. Bluebonnets need full sunlight to for best growth.
  2. Bluebonnets can be planted from September 1 through December 15, but for the best growth no later than mid-November.
  3. Bluebonnets produce large, hard-coated seeds that take time to soften, but also protect them from potentially destructive forces of nature (winter) until they are ready to form deep roots and push through the ground.
  4. Do not soak or prick the seeds.  Although doing so may improve the first year’s growth, it may also damage the seed.
  5. A significant amount of rain is needed during the winter months to soften the seeds enough to germinate.
  6. When scattering the seeds, seed to soil contact is essential. (the grass and weeds need to be cut)
  7. Seeds need to be covered by about 1/4 inch of soil to protect them from being eaten by birds or “burning” up in the sunlight.

In short,  to endure the winter, bluebonnets need to be planted in the right season, need sunlight, need contact and covering from the soil, need enough rain to soften their hard shell and need to grow at their own pace without being picked or rushed.  As I read this, I was reminded that God works the same miracle with us every time we go through a severe (winter) season in our life.

God has a perfect plan to help us endure the winter.

Spring always follows winter.  New life happens in every part of God’s creation in the spring.  Spring can be one of the most beautiful times of the year!  However, when I am in the midst of a difficult season in my life, I sometimes forget that spring is coming.  I can’t see any further than my circumstance.  Fortunately, God knows SPRING IS COMING!  I ask myself, why should I worry.

If God takes care of bluebonnets surely He will give me what I need to endure the winter:

  1. His Son, in all his glory shining down on me. John 3:16
  2. He knows exactly how long I need to endure the winter before spring arrives Isaiah 40:31
  3. He covers me with his wings until I can safely stand and flourish. Psalm 91

Although He provides all this, my part is:

  1. Not try to endure the winter without relying on Him. Psalm 78:7
  2. Not allow others to push me, shame me or blame me for being in the circumstance. Romans 8:31, 39
  3. To remain connected to God by abiding in Him. John 15:7
  4. Allowing Him to stand over me when I am weak. Philippians 4:13

No matter how cold or dark the winters of your life seem, remember SPRING IS COMING!  God provides all that you need to endure the winter.  God’s perfect plan will get you to spring.

How has God helped you endure a winter season in your life?

Covid-19 Hidden Impact for Trauma Survivors/ Tips to Cope

Updated Repost: I wrote this in the middle of lockdown 2020, not realizing that we would still be managing the COVID Pandemic in January 2022. While we are no long in lockdown, the world remains on edge. Reviewing this post brought me comfort today. I hope you find strength in the thoughts I presented nearly 2 years ago. The message remains the same. I still have a choice how I respond to the triggers from the past.

Updated Repost: I wrote this in the middle of lockdown 2020, not realizing that we would still be managing the COVID Pandemic in January 2022. While we are no long in lockdown, the world remains on edge. Reviewing this post brought me comfort today. I hope you find strength in the thoughts I presented nearly 2 years ago. The message remains the same. I still have a choice how I respond to the triggers from the past.

The Covid-19 virus has upended everyone over the past few weeks. While the new normal creates havoc for nearly everyone, I’ve realized a hidden impact for trauma survivors. With each new restriction comes less control over my life, which triggers old fears and sometimes anger. At first, I dismissed these thoughts as silly considering the restrictions haven’t significantly changed my lifestyle. Yesterday I realized why anxiety and anger resurfaced. I feel the same loss of control I felt as a child when my family members abused me, but I also realized I am not a powerless little girl anymore. I am a strong, healthy woman who knows the truth about my identity.

I can choose how I respond to the triggers from the past.

Several years ago, my late husband, John, told me a story that illustrates one way to manage the emotional turmoil the current circumstances create. The town he grew up in has a city park with an old playground. The playground includes one of those old merry-go-rounds which consists of a circular platform with bars for standing. The riders push off the ground to increase the rotation speed of the merry-go-round. Sometimes one person stands beside the equipment to push it to maximum speed. Running on the platform will also increase the speed.

Keep Your Eyes on the Tree

One day, John and two friends (all of them in their 20s) decided to see how fast they could go and still stand up. So the contest began. Each attempt ended with falls, bumps, and bruises. They ran fast, but at some point looked down at their feet. When they did, they fell. After many attempts, John’s friend suggested they focus on the tree that stood next to the merry-go-round. When they kept their eyes on the tree, they did not fall. The speed increased far beyond what they thought possible. Then they looked down, and chaos ensued. Years later, while on a mission trip to Haiti and felt overwhelmed by the darkness that surrounded him. As he prayed for peace, the events at the park came to mind. He heard a whisper, “Just keep your eye on the tree.” He had the sense that the tree represented Jesus Christ, who hung on a tree for us.

As you struggle with old tapes in these uncertain times, remember to keep your eyes on the source of comfort. You are not a helpless child living in a chaotic and abusive world. You are a survivor. You are loved by the one who died for you. Keeping my eyes on Him when anxiety and fear threaten my peace, helps ground me in the present. For me that means turning off cable news, listening to music that soothes, reading scripture and stopping the thoughts that creep into my head before they take root. None of these things change what is going on in the world, but they change how I navigate them.

Changing How You Cope

As a survivor, you have learned ways to manage triggers, but some of those may not be available now. It’s hard to change our way of coping, but not impossible. Draw a picture, write a poem (even if you don’t think you can), stay connected via texting and phone calls. Find an online church service. Reach out and let someone know this is a hard time for you. Above all, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because this triggers emotions you haven’t felt in years or months. Change your focus. Keep your eyes on the tree. When you look down and fall, get back up and try again.

We can support each other through this season: Share your coping strategies, your struggles and get support in the comments.

A New Thing-New Beginnings

We cannot change the past, but we can look for evidence of God starting a new thing. He can water the deserts, clear the wilderness, and chart our course for whatever plans He has for us. We cannot see Him at work unless we keep moving forward. 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

As we begin a new year, Isaiah reminds us to keep our eyes forward. While I don’t think he intends for us to forget the lessons from the past, his prophetic words stress the importance of seeing God at work even in desolate times. 

Our vision gets clouded when we focus on missed opportunities, failures, or hardships from years gone by which may cause us to miss the wonder that awaits us in the new year. We cannot change the past, but we can look for evidence of God starting a new thing. He can water the deserts, clear the wilderness, and chart our course for whatever plans He has for us. We cannot see Him at work unless we keep moving forward. 

Reflection

Where do you see God working in your life?

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